Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Our repentance begins and ends with God!
When we make it about what we will do to make things right with God, we veer off the road of faith into one of two ditches.
On one side of the road, we express resolve: “I will never do that again!”
We act as if we can wipe the slate clean with our sincerity and earn a pardon with our passion.
When we promise to never do that again, we are saying that we really can be good enough, and we’ll prove it this time.
But repentance is not a do-over. Nor is it a system of works righteousness.
Rather, it is a means of experiencing the abundant grace of God toward us in Christ.
Grace exposes our desire to be good enough and digs to the root of our sins. Mere resolution defrauds repentance of its lasting true fruit.
On the other side of the road, we express remorse: “I can’t believe I did that.”
Feelings of shame and guilt are natural, but the Bible says there are two kinds of grief: worldly and godly (2 Corinthians 7:10).
“Worldly grief” turns us in on self so that we are primarily concerned with our feelings and self-interests. So we feel bad, but only because we got caught. We are troubled, but only until the negative attention goes away.
A common symptom of worldly grief is self-loathing: If we can just feel bad enough, or punish ourselves enough, we can make up for what we’ve done and appease God’s wrath against our sin.
“Godly grief,” on the other hand, “produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
The one who has godly grief understands that her sin is against God as well as others,and that it reflects a deeper wickedness in her heart. She knows that admitting and regretting are not the same as repenting.
True repentance always terminates on Jesus.
It does not wallow in self-loathing or delight in self-flagellation [punishment]. Rather, it allows an honest sense of our sinfulness to drive us toward the depth of Christ’s mercy in the gospel.
- Journey to the Cross